Will Tony Flip? Is Paulie a Rat? ‘New York’ Staffers Predict the ‘Sopranos’ Finale, Part II

Paulie and Tony in the series finale of The Sopranos.Courtesy of HBO

Josh Ozersky, Grub Street Editor:
Tony will be in the crosshairs of Phil Leotardo's goons when the Feds, led by Frankie No,
swoop in with their squad of Keystone Kops to save the day. Tony ends up flipping, and
Carmela comes with him, but Chase, ambivalent to the last about giving us a happy ending(despite his urge to do so), ends with a shot of Tony alone in his thoughts, a la Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part II.

Alexandra Vallis, nymag.com Producer:
I think A.J.’s going to get shot by one of the rival families, and Tony will be relieved. Carmela will freak out and punch his chest as usual because she can sense his lack of horror, but it will end with her staying with him because, after all, she’s also a bit relieved, and the show has always underscored her own criminality and deep loyalty to Tony above all else.

Hugo Lindgren, Editorial Director:
We’re set up for a classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid finale — a cornered Tony emerging boldly into a hail of bullets. However, that would be too romantic. So let’s see it like this: Phil’s guys arrive and surround the house, just minutes before the FBI also arrives, for a three-way shoot-out. The FBI is there, naturally, to save Tony’s ass, which, after much carnage, they eventually succeed in doing. A bloodied but unbowed Tony is taken from the scene, ushered into the FBI interrogation room, where all through the night the agents try to bully and cajole him into cooperating. At various moments, he almost does it, but then finally refuses. After a final warning that the FBI will not come to his rescue again and that without them, he is a dead gangster walking, Tony walks out into the brightness of the early morning … And the curtain comes down.

Lauren Starke, Communications Manager:
Meadow gets killed, and Tony becomes an informant.

Aileen Gallagher, nymag.com Associate Editor:
Meadow says to hell with all that and abandons the family.

Will Leitch, Contributor:
Ten minutes into the episode — I imagine the opening scene will involve Phil getting off a plane from wherever the hell he's been — Tony, after eating a veal parm, his last supper, will be shot by Paulie. This is problematic for actor Tony Sirico, whose own thuggish real-life past led him to demand a clause in his contract that he never play a "rat." David Chase will get around this by explaining that Paulie's not a rat for the government, but for New York: As many surely noticed, there were several hints last episode — including Paulie's charming discussion of how he survived the last war "by the skin of his balls" — that Paulie might have been tipped off by New York, and he's clearly enraged that Bobby passed him on the Cappacola chain. (He also has plenty of history with New York and has always eyed their power enviously.) Once Tony is gone, he has no one left; making the transition to the New York crew will seem easy to him. (It wouldn't surprise me, though, if someone from Brooklyn shot him the minute he showed up at Flatbush Bikini Waxing.)

After Tony is gone, the rest of the episode will concentrate on his family and their dealing with his loss. And here's the thing: Following the initial explosion of grief, Carmela, Meadow, and A.J. find that, in a way, their lives have improved. The kids no longer have to go through life with the cloud of their father's notoriety following them around, and Carmela quickly finds another rich guy — from outside the mob world this time — who will take care of her and buy her big earrings. The only person left with guilt about Tony's death will be Melfi, who knows he died even more tortured than he had been when he first walked into her office. Fortunately, she still has a nice rib-eye recipe, so there's that. The glory of The Sopranos, which I will miss more than I even quite understand just yet, is that almost every single prediction on this page will be wrong. Every scenario I've come up with over the last month has been debunked in the very next episode. If David Chase's goal was for his show to so closely mimic real life, he pulled it off. That's probably what I'll miss the most.

Ben Mathis-Lilley, Assistant Editor:
Maybe Tony will get shot, but you won’t know who shot him.